A day trip along the winding road of the Trans Canada highway will lead you into the Fraser Canyon and Hell’s Gate.
This popular road-side attraction has been luring visitors since the mid 1970’s. Located in southern British Columbia where the mountains meet the ocean, Hell’s Gate is a scenic 2.5-hour drive from Vancouver.
The weather was spectacular, almost summer like. Definitely a great day for a road trip. I ventured out along highway #1 which follows the Fraser River. Driving from Vancouver, traveling north-east along the Trans-Canada route (along highway #1) from the town of Hope and into the Fraser River canyon you’ll pass small scenic towns like Yale and Lytton.
Today these small towns are quiet little settlements that hold only memories of glory days gone by. In 1858 these towns were bustling cities. With the influx of gold miners heading north from California, the town of Yale became a bustling city with a population of 30,000, comparable to San Francisco during the time.
These days, many people who travel through the interior of British Columbia take the Coquihalla (highway #5) a much faster route, avoiding the Fraser Canyon all together, which is a shame. Those who avoid the winding single-lane highway that stretches from Kamloops to Hope are missing some of British Columbia’s greatest panoramic views of the Fraser Valley. It’s along this highway that you can travel through seven tunnels, constructed in the early 1960’s. Built into the mountainside by man, to create a safer roadway for those who negotiate the winding stretch of road that clings to the side of the mountain, along the Fraser Canyon.
Hell’s Gate air tram is a great day-trip adventure, the roadside attraction has something for everyone. Those interested in history can learn about the Fraser River and it’s important role to the First Nations peoples of the area. As well there’s an exhibit showcasing the Fraser River Gold Rush, and salmon life cycle, a species that travels the rushing waters of the Fraser River. Children of all ages can pan for gold, explore the observation deck, then sit down with a delicious ice-cream and enjoy the views of the Fraser Canyon.
If you decide to break out of the city and take in some scenery then take a drive into the Fraser Canyon. Here’s a few tips to know before you go;
• The best way to get out to Hell’s Gate is to drive, rent a car or hire a driver. It is located about 2.5 hours from Vancouver.
• Pack a big lunch and bring it with you to enjoy. Currently, you can bring in your own food.
• Purchase tickets online before heading out. I managed to save $11.35 by purchasing tickets on the day of and printing them prior to departing for the day.
• The attraction is pet friendly and can accommodate wheelchairs. Check the website for info.
• There are some great hiking opportunities along this stretch of the Trans Canada highway 1. Check out Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park (40 km north of Hope) or the Othello Tunnels in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.